Lansing, MI – The Michigan budget deal announced this morning demonstrated that higher education is a priority for the state legislature and Governor Whitmer. The budget maintains the state’s overall investment in higher education, protecting higher education institutions and financial aid against cuts at a time of great uncertainly and need due to the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic – crucial as low-income students are already enrolling and re-enrolling in college at lower levels than in years past.
“Higher education is central to our state’s economic prosperity, yet the sector has sustained substantial cuts over the past decade. This budget protects financial aid for students from low-income families while also making important changes to ease the process of accessing aid,” said Catherine Brown, senior advisor for Michigan at The Institute for College Access & Success.
“Many thanks to our legislature and governor for ensuring that low-income students, students of color, and first-generation college-going students aren’t further locked out of postsecondary education due to budget cuts. These populations are already disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. Michigan’s economic recovery in the coming months and years will depend on having a trained and talented workforce. Stalling our educational efforts today will affect the state’s resurgence for at least the next decade,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director with the Michigan College Access Network. “Beyond the financial implications of the budget, the systemic changes to reduce barriers to college success will immediately benefit students and families, including improvements to the Tuition Incentive Program.”
Among the important victories for college students, this budget bill:
- Expands access to the state’s largest and most targeted need-based grant program, the Tuition Incentive Program by:
- Extending eligibility to ten years from first date of enrollment, which will enable older and non-traditional students to take advantage of this first-dollar, full tuition and fee grant program.
- Eliminating the separate application process, which will enable a seamless process for unlocking state aid. In doing so, this budget frees up limited taxpayer dollars for outreach and other efforts aimed at increasing college attainment.
- Provides $30 million for the newly enacted Michigan Reconnect program, which will provide financial support for students over age 25 to go to community college or attain a GED.
- Increases funding for Promise Zones to provide place-based scholarships in up to 15 areas of the state.
- Directs the state Treasury Department to create a new website to provide resources about student aid.
- Requires school districts to offer the SAT for those students unable to take it in the spring due to school closures and encourage students to take the exam, which is often used as an entrance requirement for colleges and universities.
- Codifies the states’ 60 by 30 attainment goal.
For more on Michigan, please see ticas.org/michigan/.
The Institute for College Access & Success is a trusted source of research, design, and advocacy for student-centered public policies that promote affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education. For more information see www.ticas.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.